fire doors

“EL” vs. “E”

Last week I got a compliment about this site from a security consultant, and I asked him if there were any topics he'd like me to do a post about.  He said that a post on electrified lever trim (E) vs. electric latch retraction (EL) would be helpful since he spends a lot of time explaining the difference to his clients.  So Michael, this is for you, and everyone out there who has been wondering how to choose between the two.

By |2013-02-09T01:11:45-05:00July 2nd, 2010|Electrified Hardware, Panic Hardware|6 Comments

Retrofit Dogging Pin

I've seen lots of creative ways of dogging fire exit hardware, but this one gets an "E" for Effort (along with an "F" for Fail).  These devices are on fire doors in a hotel ballroom, and while someone went to great lengths on this modification, these doors are supposed to be self-latching to compartmentalize the building during a fire.  The doors also had kick-down holders, so they're not self-closing either.  :-(

Dutch Door

I know I'm supposed to be talking about smoke doors but each of those posts takes quite a bit of research time.  I'm headed out of town tomorrow for a meeting about fire door inspection, so I'll get back to the smoke doors later in the week.

By |2012-01-27T22:07:33-05:00May 18th, 2010|Funky Applications|3 Comments

Smoke – NFPA 80

NFPA 80 - Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, is a document which most of us in the hardware industry began studying in our earliest hardware school courses and refer back to throughout our careers.  This standard is THE publication on fire doors, and is referenced by all of the codes and standards used in the U.S. that have anything to say about fire doors.  You'd think that because of the close relationship between fire doors and smoke doors (some fire doors ARE smoke doors, after all) that NFPA 80 would have something to say about smoke.  As it turns out, not much.

By |2014-05-28T19:57:32-04:00May 2nd, 2010|Fire Doors, Smoke|13 Comments

Smoke – NFPA 105

I usually like to start with the quick and easy items on my to-do list, which is why it takes me forever to get to the big stuff.  It's a fault, and I recognize that, but nobody's perfect.  I tried to find the easy place to start this series of posts, but there seems to be only one logical place to begin - NFPA 105.

By |2016-03-02T10:31:04-05:00April 30th, 2010|Fire Doors, Smoke|2 Comments

Smoke – The Series

It’s official.  I can’t hide from it any longer.  People ask me about “smoke doors” almost every day, but if you know me you know that I have a lot going on, so whenever I try to scale the mountain of information about this topic I get sidetracked by the little things that need my attention.

By |2012-01-27T22:07:34-05:00April 29th, 2010|Fire Doors, Smoke|1 Comment

Glass (and Glasses)

Someone asked me a question recently that I had to stop and think about. In the old days, wire glass could only be used in fire doors. It could not be used in non-rated doors. The question was, "Can the wire glass that meets the impact resistance requirements be used in non-rated doors?"

By |2013-02-09T01:06:14-05:00April 20th, 2010|FDAI, Glass|1 Comment

Rosepark Care Home

A while back, I wrote a post about the requirement for fire doors to be self-closing, and I referenced a fire at the Rosepark Care Home in Uddington, Scotland.  The fire occurred in 2004, but the results of the investigation are being reported now.  I've been collecting news articles related to fire and egress doors on, and there are several articles there about the Rosepark fire.

By |2019-09-25T10:22:13-04:00April 15th, 2010|FDAI, Fire Doors|0 Comments

Boston Back Bay Fire

There was a 9-alarm fire last week in Boston, in a 10-story condominium building.  Several residents had to be rescued by firefighters, because they didn't evacuate the building immediately when the alarm sounded.  One resident, who waited 10-15 minutes (by her estimate) to leave, found a stairwell full of smoke and a locked door to the roof.  She was found at the roof door in full cardiac arrest with no pulse and no respirations.  She was revived by firefighters and she survived.  She's extremely lucky.

By |2021-11-07T22:17:41-05:00April 12th, 2010|FDAI, Fire Doors|0 Comments

Triangle Factory Fire – 99 Years Ago Today

The fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City on March 25th, 1911, claimed 146 lives - mostly young immigrant women.  Building owners locked the exit doors to keep the workers in and the union organizers out, so when a fire broke out on the 8th floor it was impossible for some of the 600+ workers on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors to escape.  The fire escape was not sufficient to hold the number of fleeing occupants, and collapsed.  Firefighters' ladders were several stories too short, and water from the fire hoses could not reach the upper floors of the building.  Sixty workers jumped to their deaths.

By |2021-06-07T14:56:08-04:00March 25th, 2010|FDAI, Fire Doors, Historical, Videos|0 Comments

Parkside West Fire

Last Tuesday night, approximately fifty people were left homeless by a fire at the Parkside West Apartments in New London, Connecticut, which apparently began on a stove in a 3rd-story apartment.  One of the newspaper accounts of the fire investigation reported that the fire marshal stated "in the third-floor apartment where the fire is believed to have started, a weatherstrip prevented the door from closing, allowing smoke to spread."

By |2013-02-08T21:40:33-05:00March 13th, 2010|FDAI, Fire Doors, Videos|1 Comment

Full Surface Hinge

I've been writing a lot about fire doors lately, and specifically about what bad condition many existing fire doors are in.  The codes have always required fire doors to be kept in good working order, but with the specific requirement for the annual inspection of fire doors it will hopefully bring more of these deficiencies to light.

By |2012-01-27T22:08:02-05:00February 27th, 2010|Fire Doors, Funky Applications, Reader Photos|1 Comment

Construction Label

Last week I was on a conference call for one of my projects in Washington DC, because of a problem with the specified concealed closer and the fire-rated wood door and wood frame.  The door manufacturer suggested a "construction label," and most of the call participants needed an explanation of what that was.  I thought posting a description here might help others who are wandering the web seeking information about construction labels.  (Don't wouldn't believe how many people come to this site wondering what a Cush arm is.)

By |2013-03-08T09:42:02-05:00January 20th, 2010|Fire Doors|8 Comments

Interesting Place for an ASA Strike

I have heard from some code officials that annual fire door assembly inspections aren't feasible because there are too many fire doors, or aren't necessary because the building inspectors and fire marshals already have it covered.  The application below caught my eye on the way into my hotel the other other night.  It's the fire door that separates the wing my room is in from the lobby and the other three wings. The door is in rough shape, most likely because the panic device has been replaced several times and there's nothing left in the door to attach it to.  Someone decided that an ASA strike is just the ticket...they used it kind of like a giant washer.  Not to mention that the replacement panic is not fire exit hardware and is equipped with dogging which allows the latch to be held retracted.

By |2012-01-27T22:08:05-05:00December 30th, 2009|FDAI, Funky Applications|1 Comment

In Case of Smoke…

I've seen plenty of inventive hold-open devices on fire-rated doors, but I've never seen instructional signage to go along with them!  Coincidentally, I received photos of a chain hold-open and the signage for a chain hold-open on the same day from two different people.  The photos are not from the same facility or even the same country for that matter.

By |2012-01-27T22:09:56-05:00October 15th, 2009|Funky Applications, Reader Photos, Smoke|4 Comments

Hospital & Nursing Home (I-2) Cross-Corridor Pairs

The 2009 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) contains an important change that's easy to miss if you're not looking for it.  I stumbled across it a few months ago when someone asked me about the exception for cross-corridor doors without positive latching in I-2 occupancies.

By |2014-04-26T19:26:59-04:00September 23rd, 2009|Door Closers, Fire Doors, Gasketing & Thresholds|16 Comments

Exit Enclosure

My last post referenced the term "exit enclosure", and I received a few questions about its meaning.  An exit enclosure is the enclosure around an exit.  For our purposes it usually refers to a stairwell.  According to the IBC, exit enclosures connecting 4 or more stories require a 2-hour fire resistance rating, and those connecting less than 4 stories require a 1-hour fire resistance rating (IBC-2009-1022.1).  Exit enclosures must lead directly to the exterior or to an exit passageway, which will typically have the same fire resistance rating as the exit enclosure.  The IBC includes some exceptions for exits which do not need to be enclosed, such as stairs in parking garages.

By |2012-01-27T22:10:02-05:00June 18th, 2009|Fire Doors, Means of Egress|0 Comments

Temperature Rise Doors

A temperature rise door is a fire-rated door which limits the heat transfer through the door for a period of 30 minutes.  Temperature rise ratings indicate the maximum rise above ambient temperature on the non-fire side of the door, and will be either 250°, 450°, or 650° F.  The 250° door is the most restrictive because it limits the heat transfer to only 250° for a 30-minute period.  A typical hollow metal door would reach approximately 1400° F in the same time period.  By minimizing the transfer of heat, a temperature rise door could protect an exit enclosure, allowing people to pass below the floor of fire origin.

By |2022-07-05T13:47:05-04:00June 16th, 2009|Doors Gone Wrong, Fire Doors|6 Comments

Temperature Rise Doors

My only hesitation in posting these photos is that they are probably the best photos of Doors Gone Wrong that I have ever seen, and any future photos will pale in comparison.  These are the holy grail of bad door photos, which I received from Eyal Bedrik of Entry Systems Ltd. in Israel.  According to Eyal, these are temperature rise doors, which you can learn more about in my next post.

By |2012-01-27T22:10:02-05:00June 15th, 2009|Doors Gone Wrong, FDAI, Fire Doors|0 Comments

Retrofit Dogging

I've spent several phone calls this week discussing "dogging" with one of my favorite clients.  I guess it is kind of hard to keep straight if you're not a hardware person.  The term "dogging" refers to holding the latch(es) of a panic device retracted to create a push/pull function.  When the panic device is dogged, it is unlocked/unlatched and you can just pull on the door to open it.  When the panic device is not dogged, it is latched and you need an active trim (like a lever) or a key to retract the latch(es) and open the door.  In either case, free egress is achieved at any time by pushing on the touchpad or crossbar of the panic device.

Combustible Floor Coverings

I love it when I'm able to solve one of life's great mysteries.  Today I was asked whether a 90-minute fire rated door required a threshold.  The short answer is "no" but my coworker Greg chimed in to ask about fire rated openings with combustible floor covering running through.  There's a paragraph in NFPA 80 that I've wondered about in the past (for about 5 seconds), which says that combustible floor coverings can extend under doors that are rated up to 90 minutes as long as the minimum critical radiant flux is .22 W/cm2.  What that means, I have no clue, although Zeke tried to put it in terms of a lightbulb for me one time.

By |2012-01-27T22:10:03-05:00June 2nd, 2009|Fire Doors|0 Comments


1008.1.8.6 Delayed egress locks. Approved, listed, delayed egress locks shall be permitted to be installed on doors serving any occupancy except Group A, E and H occupancies in buildings that are equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or an approved automatic smoke or heat detection system installed in accordance with Section 907...

By |2013-04-03T15:15:37-04:00May 28th, 2009|General Info|0 Comments

Hinge Fillers

What you're looking at is an existing fire rated frame with a new door that I saw recently during a fire door inspection.  Most of the other doors that I inspected that day had steel hinge fillers to fill the existing hinge preps before the continuous hinges were installed.  So why were a half-dozen or so filled with expandable foam insulation?'s a mystery.

By |2012-01-27T22:10:38-05:00May 1st, 2009|FDAI, Fire Doors, Hinges & Pivots|0 Comments

Fire Door Clearance

The 2007 edition of NFPA 80 contains an important change regarding the clearance at the bottom of a fire rated door.  In previous editions of this standard, there was a somewhat confusing table (Table 1-11.4) listing different allowable clearance dimensions depending on the flooring material.  The 2007 edition simplifies this requirement, allowing 3/4" clearance under the bottom of the door regardless of the flooring.  The only exception is when the bottom of the door is more than 38" above the floor, ie. dutch doors and counter shutters.

By |2017-10-06T11:25:45-04:00April 20th, 2009|Fire Doors, Gasketing & Thresholds|10 Comments

Protection Plates on Fire Doors

A few years ago, an architect that I've worked with for over 20 years called me and indignantly asked, "Do you know the maximum height for a kick plate on a fire door?!"  I answered that it was 16" above the bottom of the door.  The architect said, "Well!  We tried to write our own hardware spec for a 15-door job.  There were 11 hardware sets and there has been a problem with every set except one, and now there's a problem with THAT set...the kick plate is too high!"  As far as I know, they never tried to write their own hardware spec again.

By |2013-07-11T13:21:47-04:00April 8th, 2009|Fire Doors|27 Comments


I recently conducted a fire door assembly inspection and I noted that many of the existing frames had old holes that had been patched with Bondo filler putty.  NFPA 80 requires that holes left by the removal of hardware must be filled with steel fasteners or with the same material as the door or frame.  To the best of my knowledge, there isn't a filler putty-type product that has been tested for this use.  If anyone knows of a putty that is acceptable for use on fire-rated doors and frames, I'd love to hear about it.

By |2012-01-27T22:10:40-05:00March 19th, 2009|FDAI, Fire Doors|4 Comments

Residential Fire Doors

According to the International Residential Code, the door between a private garage and a single family home must provide protection from fire.  The picture to the right is from a fire department website describing how the door between the garage and the home protected the rest of the residence and its occupants.  The door must be a solid wood or solid/honeycomb core steel door, at least 1 3/8" thick, or a door with a 20-minute label.

By |2013-10-29T13:36:13-04:00March 17th, 2009|Fire Doors|0 Comments

Solution for Unequal Pairs

One of the top 5 questions which I receive almost weekly is regarding the replacement of a 5'-wide equal pair with a 3'+2' unequal pair.  Because automatic flush bolts and a coordinator can be problematic, and most panic hardware will not fit on a 2' wide door, I'm constantly being asked if it's ok to use manual flush bolts on the 2' leaf.  That's a tough question to answer because the code-compliant solution isn't the best application as far as function and durability.  The IBC (2003) says this:

By |2012-07-26T17:56:08-04:00March 4th, 2009|Accessibility, Locks & Keys|2 Comments

Job-Site Preparation of Fire Doors

This morning a customer asked about using continuous hinges to change the hand of a pair of rated doors (inswing to outswing), in an equal rabbet frame.  I couldn't think of any objections - the existing hinge preps would be filled with steel fillers in compliance with NFPA 80.  The continuous hinges wouldn't require a hole greater than the maximum 1" diameter allowed by NFPA 80.  I checked with Steelcraft to see if our frames need to be reinforced for continuous hinges when used in a rated application, and the answer was no.  So...although the AHJ always has the final say in the matter, I can't think of one reason you can't do this as long as it is an equal rabbet frame.

By |2014-09-19T11:04:50-04:00March 4th, 2009|Fire Doors|3 Comments
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